This is my first time trying out a nursing forum... hoping I may find some guidance from those of you who work in a NICU. Long story short, I went to nursing school to become a NICU nurse. I graduated with my BSN last May and had a heck of a time finding a job. During school I made a great contact with a NICU manager at a wonderful hospital in my area. I was chosen out of hundreds of applicants for an interview for their new grad program in the NICU. I was so excited and had my heart set on this position. I made it through 3 interviews before they told me they had to chose the other applicant because he/she had previous CNA experience in a NICU or had their senior practicum in a NICU. I was devastated. I applied for dozens more NICU jobs in and out of state but did not even get an interview. I know it's rough for most new grad RN's right now trying to find work, especially in a specialty area, so as I was still applying for various positions, I began doing pediatric home health care since I at least would be able to work with kids. Shortly after I took that job, a job in an orthopedic unit kind of landed in my lap. I took that position since I would get benefits and experience, and make more money! I have only been there for 4 months, but I have learned bucket-loads! I don't mind the work and love that I see new things every day.
However, I know in my heart that I still want to work in a NICU. And now I don't know how to make that transition! I have tried to make connections, but it's just tough being new and all! The NICU in my hospital is so small, and they just had to lay off some of their nurses because there wasn't enough work for them. So transferring in-hospital is pretty much out of the question.
I know that I owe it to my manager to stay where I'm at until I've been there for a year, but does anyone have any suggestions that I could be doing in the meantime to prepare myself for getting a NICU position within the next year? What will make me stand out? I will have had one year of RN experience, but none in a NICU. It seems like every single job posting I look at for NICU jobs states "must have 1-2 years recent NICU experience". How do I get that experience in the first place??! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!
Mar 2, '11
Sorry you have had so much trouble finding a job in a NICU. I know how you feel - I went to nursing school to be a NICU nurse and didnt want to do anything else. I have been in the NICU for 23 yrs now. I would suggest you try to start out working in Womens Services somewhere-preferably in a nursery at least. This will give you an advantage when applying for NICU's. You will become comfortable with assessments of infants and interacting with parents. Working mother/baby units would be my next choice. Start studying the certification exam for the NICU and for Low Risk Neonatal. This will give you a lot of information that you didn't get in nursing school. Almost all of the nurses in our unit are certified. Find a place that is offering an internship if possible. Working pediatric home health is a good experience too since you would get familiar with ventilators and assessments. Ask them to give you the babies to work with-especially those that were "ex-premies". What state do you live in? I'm in Dallas,Tx
Mar 3, '11
Thank you for your advice. I actually tried pretty hard to get hired in a mom/baby or L&D but jobs are so scarce for new grads so I finally just had to take what was offered to me. I am located in Colorado... Are there many jobs in TX for one-year experienced nurses? I'm pretty sure I want to continue school to become a NNP and I'm getting anxious to start with that. For most NNP programs they require 2 years experience in a NICU! So it's a vicious cycle!! Thanks, again, for your reply. Let me know if you can think of anything else I could be doing to stand out to NICU hiring managers.
Mar 3, '11
May I suggest networking with other nurses. By this I mean attending local, regional, state and national nursing conferences, especially those related to neonatal nursing & possibly OB/Well Baby nursing as well. Maybe even joining your state nursing association and meeting people there, being on committees, etc. Become a member of NANN and ANN. Subscribe to the NAINR journal. Look on the web for conferences like the Contemporary Forums ones. Being a member of NANN and ANN gives discounts to their conferences. I also believe that any your time spent with pediatric patients will only be helpful to you as you learn how to work with parents of sick children, you may get a chance to take care of babies who were preemies and see first hand what happens to them after they are discharged from the NICU, and the experience will only be helpful once you enter NNP school since they learn about babies from birth to about 3 years old I believe. You may even have the chance to learn PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) which will look great on your resume not to mention the experience will be awesomely helpful to you. The reason I suggest networking is because I have lately heard of nurse managers who prefer to hire nurses who are recommended to them by other nurses. It doesn't seem fair but much of life isn't. "It's not what you know but who you know." is a classic phrase and as I get older and see how life and workplace politics work, I see how much truth can be in it. On the bright side, you will make lots of new friends and who knows, maybe find your dream job in a roundabout way. Don't give up! Your passion is strong and contagious!
Mar 7, '11
What about emergency room nursing? Is that good experience for a NICU nurse to have? An opportunity just recently opened up for me to get a job in an ED at a great hospital...
Jan 20, '16
CB, curious, dd you ever end up getting into a NICU position? I too am having the same issue years later, trying to get into a NICU in Colorado. SO TOUGH!
Jan 20, '16
I did end up in a NICU but not until I had a couple of years of Med/surg and adult ICU experience... And I got the email address of the NICU manager from a friend that worked at a hospital that was hiring. It's all about who you know, unfortunately!! But I will tell you it was worth the wait. I love my job so much! If NICU nursing is truly where you want to be you will end up there too. Just keep making connections and emailing managers!